Know the risks of melanoma

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- One in five Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every year, and May is skin cancer awareness month.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, it kills one person every hour. Other skin cancers stay in the skin, but not melanoma, it is a cancer of the pigment cells.

Dr. Andrea Morris of the George Washington Medical Faculty Associates says, "Most of these pigment cells are found in the skin, but can be found elsewhere in the body and it is a cancer that rapidly spreads."

The disease forms as a mole, and is curable with early detection. When checking out a mole, it helps to remember the ABC's of melanoma.

Dr. Morris says, "A is symmetry, B is border, C is color. So if it is darker or multi-colored, D is diameter, size. A size bigger than a pencil eraser might catch your eye."

E stands for evolving, if a mole changes shape then see a dermatologist.

When outside, wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Limit tanning bed use, and know your family history. You are at higher risk if your relatives had melanoma.

"It is difficult to cure once it spreads beyond the skin. There are more treatments being developed but they only treat and contain the melanoma for so long.


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